R and I were in Stratford today, for errands and lunch, on a day that had started well, weather-wise, but then turned very bad indeed. In freezing temperatures and driving rain, I scuttled down to the river to grab some - any - kind of photo, and witnessed something I'd never seen before. Well, several things really, in a sequence.
Firstly, although mallards are fairly notorious for it, I'd never seen a swan attempting rape before. This, though, was definitely on the cards, as a large and angrily hormonal cob hunted a young, slender female up and down the river, attempting repeatedly to climb onto her back. She tried everything she could think of, short of flying, to get away from him - even swimming underneath the rowing boat pontoon at one point - but he was bigger, stronger and faster, and I was quite sure it was not going to end well for her.
Then though, a second unexpected turn of events took place when a third, equally angry swan appeared and attacked the male. My immediate assumption, that this was another male that wanted in on the action, turned out to be well wide of the mark: the incomer here, head snaking forward and bill open, ready to bite, is a larger female, and given what happened subsequently I think that she must be the mate of the errant male. She threw herself at the first pair, but concentrated her attack on the male, which allowed the younger female to extricate herself from the tangle of bodies and sneak quietly away. Mrs Swan then stood off her husband, but reared up furiously at him, flapping her wings, while he - bigger and stronger, remember - adopted a low (could one even say contrite?) posture and let her rage at him.
Finally she swam past him and appeared to be leaving the scene, but then circled back round and allowed herself to be coaxed into a reconciliation. In my extra I can imagine him saying something along the lines of "Babes, please! You know it's always been you! I just lost my head, right, and I'm really sorry - I don't know what came over me! You've got to forgive me, Babes! Really - I mean - think of all the years we've been together! Think of the children!" She, meanwhile, even if she's staying in the marriage, appears to be plotting some kind of revenge....
The whole sequence of events took less than two minutes, and in all the fuss and flurry I was pretty confused as to what was happening, but I managed to shoot the entire drama, and sorted out the story when I got home and viewed my photos. I've posted about twenty to Facebook that I think tell the tale.
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